ORLANDO, Fla., April 16 (UPI) -- Four astronauts arrived in Florida on Friday for their mission to the International Space Station planned for next week -- the third launch of people aboard a SpaceX rocket and capsule.
The launch, planned for 6:11 a.m. EDT Thursday from Kennedy Space Center, will mark the first time a reused Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket fly with people on board.
"We're excited to fly on these flight-proven vehicles," mission commander Shane Kimbrough said during a live broadcast at the space center after the astronauts arrived.
"Certainly I think all [launches] until we get several years under our belt, should be considered test flights," Kimbrough said. "We're very confident in the team ... that's been working on the vehicles; we don't have any issues with that."
The crew includes Kimbrough and mission pilot Meghan McArthur, both of NASA, along with mission specialists Thomas Pesquet, of the European Space Agency, and Akihiko Hoshide, of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency.
McArthur will ride in the same capsule that her husband, astronaut Bob Behnken, rode to the space station in May for the historic first SpaceX crewed flight. The space company has refurbished the capsule.
"We got to fly by the pad and see our rocket getting ready to go, and it's just an amazing feeling," McArthur said. "There's nothing like it when you look out the window and see a spaceship getting prepared and realize that you're going to be riding on it in a few days."
The visit to Kennedy Space Center was a first for Pesquet, who previously traveled to the space station in 2016 in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from Kazakhstan.
"I think we're living in the golden age of human spaceflight," Pesquet said Friday. "There's never been that many ways to go into space. It looks like everybody, every country has a project or a spacecraft that's capable of flying, or will be capable of flying soon."